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ISSUE 42 FALL 2021
Best Practices: I Tested Positive for What?
Lessons Learned: Immediate and Systemic Failures
ASI Message: Analyzing Midairs
Focus Point: Avoiding Part 134.5
Safety Spotlight: Reducing the Impact of Bird Strikes
USAIG and Black Swan Solutions by Empathia® Team Up
Is SMS 'that thing'
You Constantly
Put Off?
I'm an unabashed Space Nut. I was
hooked as a kid watching Neil Armstrong
plant a boot on the moon. I doubt I'm the
only one who counts that as a steering
factor toward an aviation career and
a lifelong interest in space endeavors.
No matter your view of its oft-trending
CEO, it would be hard to deny SpaceX
is achieving impressive advances in that
realm today. I've seen quotes attributed
to Mr. Musk where he says the difficulty
of scaling production of new technology
is not well understood-that it's vastly
harder to design a manufacturing system
for a rocket than to design the rocket.
Perhaps we should not be surprised, then,
if it feels like hard work to lift a system
from " able to perform " to " optimized
to repeatedly perform with essentially
perfect reliability. " Henry Ford probably
grappled with similar concerns.
The quest to improve Safety Management
Systems (SMS) feels susceptible to
that kind of misunderstanding. The
flight department (rocket) has been
built and we've proved it can fly. The
heavy lifting is over, right? Not really.
Perhaps, safety management's role in
aviation's maturation is one of those
underappreciated, not-well-understood
things that makes resisting it a bit too
instinctive. If you keep thinking " I'll get to
the SMS after I do the important stuff "
you aren't alone, but that does not mean
you're right.
I Tested Positive for What?
Pilots beware. There are medications and common products
that could cause a false positive drug test
Substance abuse, or even the suspicion of it, has consequences for the pilot, mechanic
or ATC controller who gets drug tested at the workplace. A positive DOT drug test under
FAA Order 2150.3b requires revocation of all pilot certificates. Part 121 and Part 135 (and
some 145) operators are required to test pilots and other certificate holders performing
safety-sensitive positions for pre-employment, random drug testing, post-accident,
reasonable cause, return-to-duty cause, and follow-up testing. Failure of a random DOT
drug test carries a penalty of revocation of the airman certificate as well as the medical
The FAA HIMS (Human Intervention Motivational Study) program helps commercial pilots with
drug/alcohol problems get back into the cockpit after testing positive. The HIMS-AME will
help the pilot meet the necessary FAA requirements to receive a special issuance certificate
through a lengthy and costly process. The program's success rate is about 85 percent.
But what if you are not a drug user? The definition of a false positive laboratory value in
drug screening is a drug level that is reported positive even if the patient is drug-free. In
most cases, the false positive is caused by an interaction or cross sensitivity between the
drug test assay used and a prescribed medication.
A common drug level panel ordered for the pilot will include THC (marijuana), cocaine,
opioids (codeine, morphine, or heroin), amphetamine, and phencyclidine (PCP). Additional
substances that can be detected are benzodiazepines (Valium®, Xanax®, Ativan®), LSD,
MDMA (Ecstasy), and opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone).
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